Today is my friend’s birthday. He never liked people making a big fuss about it; as a matter of fact, he did not even want people to know his birthday. However, I remembered and every year I would send my birthday wishes to him. He always appreciated being thought of, and at the same time relished that I would never announce it to anyone else. I gather that it was his personal day to reflect on life and his place in this world.
I don’t get to tell him “Happy Birthday” this year; not the same way, at least. I thought of him early this morning and send him my well wishes in silence, in my thoughts, and out into the universe. He believed in an afterlife, and I hope it is everything he thought it would be and more; and maybe, just maybe he heard my birthday wishes and smiled, because I remembered.
I will always remember, but not just his birthday, but him as a person – this day and every other day. Life goes on, I know, and we so often let people who passed fade away. Maybe because it’s ‘easier’ to cope, but I think it actually makes it harder when we DO think of them. It’s like feeling that pain of loss all over again; so we let them fade away.
I decided to NOT let that happen and actually remember my friend every day. I think of topics I would have brought to his attention, questions I would have presented him with and sometimes, I even imagine what he might have said. I recall things he said (all the time), movies he would have wanted to see and the ones he would point out on how unrealistic there are. When I go for my walk and find loose change on the ground, I pick it up and think how I would normally tell him about it, so we could add it to our “walking fund” savings bank I made a couple years ago. When I start a new exercise program, I would recall how we would mention it to him and then create a new monthly challenge between the two of us. When I listen to a podcast episode that I think he would find interesting, I pretend I have a conversation about it with him in my mind.
All those things are not to make me sad, but rather to continue my appreciation of his friendship and mentorship. We get presented opportunities to meet certain people in our lives who leave a lasting positive effect on us in many different ways. Unfortunately, we don’t always appreciate those special connections at that moment in time, but only in hindsight. Trust me when I say that being understood truly is an underrated pleasure. Sometimes certain people “just get you” in ways nobody else does. Hold on to those people and the ideas they share, directly and indirectly.
When we lose someone, we can find ourselves in a downward spiral of sadness. It is okay to feel all the emotions; it is indeed necessary not to fight them, but rather have the emotions move through us. I also believe that a person never truly dies as long as we remember them; then they continue to live inside of us and we get to carry a part of them every day. In a way, I take comfort in that and I hope you do, too. By changing our perspective, we can change our experience.
Stop living in the past or future, and let’s truly be present in the moment. Don’t wait to ask questions you are curious about. Don’t wait to say what you feel needs to be said. Always let people know they matter to you; remember that actions can speak louder than words.
Happy Birthday, Patrick!